Ai Will Become Huge, but People Will Still Be Critical to It

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is a game changer for IT operations and business outcomes. However, as corporate reliance on technology increases, senior IT leaders must go beyond adding AI-based capabilities and continue to value the value of their employees to IT and business success.

This need to focus on people was highlighted in a recent ManageEngine white paper, crowdsourced from ten industry-specific IT service management bodies (ITSMs). They shared their views on “Which three areas of IT strategy are critical to the development of ITSM in the next three years?” and when their responses were analyzed, two strategic areas were repeatedly mentioned:

Solving people’s problems and needs

Ways of working or improvements related to the process

While business requirements will no doubt drive technology empowerment, especially with continued investment in digital transformation and AI research, greater use of new and existing technologies is likely to require people and process improvements as well.

Examples of using AI in IT

While some may see the adoption of AI-powered capabilities as replacing people in favor of technology, this is not usually the case in IT operations. For example, in most common use cases for ITSM, AI is used to solve operational and analytical tasks, rather than to replace roles.

This use case “limitation” needs to be considered when applying AI capabilities to IT (and other business functions). It also highlights the need to focus on people when implementing AI, recognizing that AI often complements people’s knowledge and skills rather than replacing them in their roles. Humans are also likely to get involved and maybe even get AI results.

Ultimately, AI use cases must be driven by people, not technology, to be successful.

Moreover, the technology used in a business should be chosen for the environment in which it will be used, and not vice versa.

The Importance of People to Technological Success

People are the most important component of successful AI implementation. For example, people ensure optimal benefits are achieved by identifying business opportunities, from purchasing decisions to how purchased technology is best used to support the business. In addition, the right people (and processes) are needed to ensure that the technology being used delivers the value the business expects and needs.

In a crowdsourced newspaper, Daniel Breston uses the phrase “”for the people and by the people” enhanced by emerging technologies” before detailing the three areas of its strategy. While Sophie Danby calls for “the need to recognize and appreciate the importance of people to ITSM success”. And Barclay Ray states the need to “develop strong and positive managerial competencies that then help people.”

Sophie Danby adds: “This is then built into strategies related to employee wellbeing, organizational change management, employee experience and performance, learning and development, etc. Ultimately, I think IT organizations should finally start acting on the oft-heard rhetoric that “our people are our greatest asset.”

Balance between people, processes and technology

Therefore, while using AI is not difficult to improve IT operations and results, as well as business results, it is important to understand the relationship between people, processes and technologies.

For example, given the relationship between humans and AI, while the benefits of using AI are likely to be communicated in solution marketing materials, potential drawbacks and dependencies should also be carefully considered, including the following:

AI can have the most significant impact on your organization through people. While IT staff may have ideas about which of the common AI use cases are best for their environment, end user needs and expectations will point to areas where AI will deliver the most business value. Whether it’s fixing performance-affecting issues or looking for improvement opportunities.

As with any new technology initiative, organizational change management (OCM) tools and techniques are essential to ensure the successful adoption of AI-enabled capabilities. After all, this addition is not just a technological change; it’s also a change in people because it affects traditional ways of working (for both IT staff and the people they serve). Failure to meet the relevant needs of OCM, including ensuring that employees have the necessary skills, is likely to result in resistance to change, delays, and possibly loss of expected benefits (due to people not implementing new features as planned).

The promise that AI will make life easier for everyone is a compelling stimulus for change. However, given the causal impact of new AI capabilities, there are likely to be a few potential pitfalls to avoid. A good example is IT support, AI capabilities can be used to sort (categorize, prioritize and route) and even process incoming incidents and ticket requests. However, what is the potential impact of AI on people removing most large-scale, low-value tickets from IT help desk? IT staff will likely be left with more complex or confusing tickets. On the one hand, this can be seen as a motivation as IT staff faces more challenges than before. But, on the other hand, it can make their job more difficult (removing all the “easy stuff”) and make it even more difficult or even impossible to achieve long-standing IT support goals, such as first contact problem resolution goals.

We hope these three points help to articulate the importance of people to AI adoption and the continued success of IT operations. Failure to implement AI on the people who use and benefit from it is likely to result in sub-optimal outcomes for both IT and business.

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